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Halló - Christopher here

I've been dwelling on what should go in my first edition of these missives and how I've always loved curatorial pursuits – making ordered lists, booking shows, producing a weekly radio program. It tickles some intersection of ego and socialization that I feel valid enough to dwell within; my best born from working off of others.

More editor than creator.
[oh geez - insert literal other people's energy riff here]

That radio show celebrates its third anniversary along with its broadcast home this week, by the way. Long live Tonotopicalia. Long live KUZU. #campsoup

Needless to say, my writing style will have some contrast to Skyler's, but I think it will offer a fun change up. Like a Pinky to the Brain.
Lianne La Havas, self-titled album promotional image

F I N A L L Y

I've long awaited an official release of Lianne La Havas' cover for "Weird Fishes / Arpeggi" by Radiohead ever since watching her 2013 Glastonbury debut. That wait has now ended with the release of her self-titled third album this past week.

Take this video in, it's awesome. Every single time I watch it, I notice something new. That for instance the bass drum head has a "Lianne" logo mark but in the style of the Ludwig brand. And their collective style, Mein Gott. I have a particular admiration for any musicians who can so own and execute their performance while looking that good.

This cover is exceptionally good, though. La Havas has fully made it her own while avoiding trite cover tropes and pitfalls. It's not just a song now performed in a new style - it has an ingrained respect to it. In Rainbows seriously impacted the way I think about and enjoy music. Its novel for the moment pay-what-you-want drop arrived in my freshman year of college and became my go-to open car window belter. It remains my favorite album end-to-end to this day and from what I've read, this status is held same for La Havas. Also also, in my readings, I've learned that she is exactly one day older than me. Neat.

As my spouse has said a few times this past week, I'm obsessed.

I'm not the only one blown away by it. Lane Garner and I organized a 10th anniversary blow-out for In Rainbows at Dan's Silverleaf some years ago. Our all-star cast of Denton musicians* - of which I still cannot believe I got to perform with - so collectively loved Lianne's groove-take on "Weird Fishes" that we incorporated it into our own cover. A cover-Inception, if you will. You can see how that went by clicking this next video below.

This was the first time Skyler and I ever performed together. You can see his head atop his really tall body bobbing ethereally above in the upstage-right corner. His outline marking his best Ed O’Brien impression occasionally traced by the blue glow Jimmy Smith dialed up for us on that Silverleaf stage. I supremely miss this moment and experience. I miss this stage along with all the other well-worn wooden planks and cheap carpet across town. I miss the compromised and unbalanced sound systems, the beloved bartenders, the salty regulars. I miss...
 

*the other members of this night’s superstar cohort beyond myself, Skyler, and Lane (both on guitars) included:

  • Jordan Coffing, vocals (couldn’t ask for a better Thom Yorke buddy)
  • Leoncarlo Canlas, violin
  • Lauren McKinley, keys
  • Mike Luzecky, bass
  • Matt Young, drums and sampler
  • Devin Eddleman, alto sax
  • Garrett Wingfield, bass clarinet and bass sax
  • Peter Brewer, flugelhorn
  • Kenny Davis, bass trombone

I supremely miss live music.

NIVA

Of course, I'm not the only one.

The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), professionally formed and organized in response to the pandemic, has been lobbying Congress for the last five months to include our side of the industry in government emergency assistance. The harsh reality is that the vast majority of small and independent venues will likely shutter for good if we remain in this un-assisted state through the end of the calendar year. I've just about made peace with the fact that the likelihood of returning to mix and run shows at Andy's on the Denton square anytime soon is next to naught. I would love to be wrong, though, as I suspect most of you reading this would as well.

To my surprise, this lobbying has yielded initial dividends as this week Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX) have co-authored and introduced the Save Our Stages Act, or SOS for short. There is a non-zero chance that the legislation could pass, but as with most honest political action, it will need public advocacy and support to get it to goal. The next two weeks are going to be critical in whether this assistance comes to pass.

If you want to help, more information and calls to action can be found at NIVA's website.

Speaking of politics...
[everyone now checks out]

 

"Here’s to loving one of the least-hip shows on TV. To its earnest parenting, its destabilizing cast changes, its long seasons. Get excited for a cameo from Colin Powell, as himself! Marvel at the variety of accents being attempted! Can we interest you in some passionate descriptions of diplomacy and an occasional mention of Thomas Aquinas?"

So begins Margaret Lyons' New York Times critics review of the series finale of Madam Secretary - a show I may or may not have binged all six seasons of over the last month.

CBS

The show has got it all–
Extreme self-righteousness!
Social justice progress through policy and diplomatic pressure!
An overt deference to the military!
Explicitly bisexual and pansexual characters with non-destructive story arcs!
Three Broadway veterans who occasionally morph show tunes into statecraft!


I think what I really loved about Madam Secretary, however, was how it addressed nearly every major domestic and geopolitical crisis of the last six years with a sort of altruistic revisionist history that abided an overriding sense of ethics. Definitely my kind of escapism, to be sure.

Does the show often sit squarely centrist? Yes. Does it have a severe problem with dialogue death by exposition? Yes. Does Morgan Freeman show up every now again as the Chief Justice of SCOTUS? Also, yes.

Couple this binging with my on-again off-again reading of Ronan Farrow's Pulitzer-winning War On Peace, and I might as well be angling for a desk on the seventh floor.
W.W. Norton & Company

Lastly,

In a bit of band news, Skyler and I got together earlier in the week to continue producing the next small album, this time actually making Zoom bend to our will for once.

Even through fits and starts, disruptions and distance, we're letting this music breathe and grow. It feels damn good, too.

I can't wait for you all to hear it. For those that joined us at TB Winds in March as Skyler mentioned last week, I think you will dig how the music has evolved since then.
While we wait, why not leave you with one more video? It's the live session of "Literary" and "The Same Object" we recorded and shot at Solar Way studios last year. It, too, features some of those same rad folks from the In Rainbows tribute.
 
Solar Way Live Session
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